Why user testing should be part of your website redesign

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Published Jul 26, 2017 | Written by Katie Hughes

Untitled design (10).jpgIf you’ve used an inbound strategy to guide your website redesign, you’ll have focused on making it look fresh and modern, and telling a story through your content. You will have used appropriate keywords to drive traffic to your site, used your buyer personas to create engaging blog content, and added relevant CTA’s to convert visitors to leads.

But do you know what the end user experience is like? Is your website easy to use? Does it encourage visitors to engage with your brand and products?  

Whether you are giving your website a complete overhaul, or are making regular changes through growth-driven design - your core focus should be on the user experience. 

Getting real users to test your website means you can ensure it delivers a positive experience. But too often, this is overlooked. 

We explore why user testing can be a valuable part of the website redesign process, and outline ways you can go about it.

First impressions matter

When you meet someone new, it takes them seven seconds to form an impression of you. In these first few seconds, they’ve already judged you.

It’s really no different with websites. In fact research has shown that when viewing a website, it takes less than two-tenths of a second to form a first impression.

If the user experience is confusing, your audience won’t take the time to explore your site and learn about your product.

And a study by Adobe found that 38% of people will stop engaging with a website if the content and layout is unattractive. That’s a large proportion of customers you could unwittingly be turning away.

Why user testing?

Your website design should be all about the people who will visit and interact with it, so when redesigning your site, you should focus on their experience.

It’s all well and good if you think your site is engaging and easy to use, but what does your target audience think?

The only way you can really be sure that your website is hitting the mark, is to test it with them.

Through user testing you can:

  • Explore whether respondents are able to complete actions
  • Identify what works well / not so well 
  • Explore how appealing respondents find your website
  • Identify changes required to improve the user experience

User testing methods

These are some examples of some different types of user tests you might wish to consider before launching your new website.

Lab tests:

In a lab test, the observer and respondent will sit in two adjacent rooms separated by a two-way mirror, so the observer can view the respondent.

Users are asked to follow pre-defined scenarios, for example navigate to the contact page, or click the CTA on the latest blog. The respondent's computer screen, and in some cases facial expressions, are recorded.

The test is often then followed up by a short interview, either after each task or at the end, to summarise the session.

This method will highlight any issues or areas of confusion to be tweaked before launch.

Eye tracking:

Eye tracking measures a person's gaze and the motion of the eye as they view a web page.

Heat maps are generated to show points on the page where the respondent concentrated their gaze, and how long they focused on each point for.

Pathways can also be tracked to show the eye’s movement between areas on the page, so you can determine where they look first.

Your results can be used to guide the design, so your key content stands out, and navigation options are clearly visible.

Qualitative research:

Through qualitative research, you can capture a more rounded, and granular, view of the user experience. You can explore perceptions of the design, look and feel, content, language, and ease of use.

You can dig deeper into what is driving respondents' first impressions, what they like and dislike about the design, and what works well and not so well in terms of functionality. Respondents can also suggest improvements which can be incorporated before launch.

You could carry out individual one-to-one interviews, where the respondent explores the site while discussing their views with the moderator. Unlike lab tests, this involves a more exploratory evaluation of the website rather than focusing solely on usability, i.e. how easy it is to complete set tasks.

Or you could host an online group. This is a cost effective way of testing your website with a larger sample who may be spread across the country, or globally. Respondents are asked to explore the website and share their views and experiences in the online group. The group environment means respodents can discuss and debate their views, and generate ideas for improvements. 

User testing can provide you with valuable insights to ensure your website provides an engaging user experience. It can highlight issues with usability, guide you on how best to layout your content, and suggest improvements. Ultimately, your website should deliver a positive experience for your audience, and testing it with them means you can be confident it does just that.

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Published by Katie Hughes July 26, 2017
Katie Hughes